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Essex Free Press Article about our Tinnitus Lunch & Learn

Happy Thursday!  Hope everyone is staying dry and warm on this “spring” day.

Please see Sylene Argent’s article titled Clinic Shares Information about Tinnitus in the Essex Free Press this week. Sylene reported on our Tinnitus Lunch & Learn that we hosted on March 23, 2015.

If you or a loved one is suffering from tinnitus, or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic at 519.961.9285

The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic

Can Hearing Aids Help People With Tinnitus?

As we are leading up to our Tinnitus Lunch & Learn on Monday March 23, we thought we would try to shed a little bit of light on how hearing aids can help those who suffer with tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing or chirping sound, perceived when there is no external sound present. Research shows that aging, exposure to loud sounds, earwax accumulation and ear bone changes (otosclerosis) contribute to the cause of tinnitus.

Many factors affect a person’s tinnitus such as: anxiety, stress and blood pressure.  There are many studies show that of the 20% of the world’s population suffers from tinnitus & many also have a hearing loss.

Which bring us to the question: Can Hearing Aids Help People With Tinnitus?

The short answer is: YES!

Studies* show that of those who complain of hearing loss (from the most mild loss to the most severe) together with tinnitus, hearing aids in both ears alleviated tinnitus perception in 69% of users!

Can tinnitus be alleviated by Hearing Aids?

Why do they help? Hearing aids provide a diversion for our brains. They tell our brain “hear this instead” and those sounds which would be lost by our hearing loss now act to stimulate the areas that were previously the source of our tinnitus. Hearing aids also make our sound range much larger, giving us more things outside of ourselves to listen to. Hearing aids reduce anxiety caused by troubled communications and help reduce stress while also having the added benefit of an improved social life. Hearing aids reduce the fatigue brought upon us by always listening closely. Hearing aids can also be programmed to mask the tinnitus with a sound that is more pleasant than the tinnitus itself.

Our Doctors of Audiology can help you with your tinnitus.  Just because there is not a cure for tinnitus, it does not mean there is no hope/help.  At The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic we are able to perform tinnitus testing and provide treatment, counselling and management. Call (519) 961-9285 to book your appointment today!

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Diabetics are twice as likely to have hearing loss

Diabetics – Schedule Your Annual Hearing Test Today

Happy Wednesday!

We all know there are many causes of hearing loss; exposure to loud noise, aging, head trauma, etc. What you may not associate with hearing loss is DIABETES. Studies show that people who are diabetic – even pre-diabetic, were twice as likely to have a hearing loss. Considering there are 2.4 million Canadians who have been diagnosed diabetic, a visit to our Doctors of Audiology at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic for an annual hearing test is a must!

If you or someone you love suffers from Diabetes, call 519.961.9285 today to arrange your diagnostic hearing assessment.

The full article can be found here -> http://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52369-Diabetics-twice-as-likely-to-have-hearing-loss

Hearing Aids May Improve Balance

Hearing Aids May Improve Balance
by Julia Evangelou Strait

Timothy Hullar, MD, (right) and medical student Miranda Colletta help patient Audrey Miller prepare for a balance test. Older adults with hearing loss appeared to perform better on balance tests with both hearing aids on, according to Hullar’s research. Credit: Robert Boston

Enhancing hearing appears to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on compared with when they were off.

The small study, which appears in the journal The Laryngoscope, involved only 14 people ages 65 to 91 but is the first to demonstrate that sound information, separate from the balance system of the inner ear, contributes to maintaining the body’s stability. The study lends support to the idea that improving hearing through hearing aids or cochlear implants may help reduce the risk of falls in older people.

“We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert,” said senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit—more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”
All participants served as their own controls, performing the balance tests with and without their hearing aids turned on. Since the researchers were interested in examining the effect of hearing, all tests were conducted in the presence of a sound source producing white noise, similar to the sound of radio static.
In one test, subjects’ eyes were covered as they stood with their feet together on a thick foam pad. In a second, more difficult task, patients stood on the floor with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, also with no visual cues for balance. Patients were timed to see how long they could stand in these positions without moving their arms or feet, or requiring the aid of another person to maintain balance.
Several of the participants could maintain stability on the foam pad for at least 30 seconds (which is the considered normal), whether their hearing aids were on or not. But those having more difficulty with balance in this test performed better when their hearing aids were on. And the improvement in performance was even more apparent in the more challenging balance test.
“We wanted to see if we could detect an improvement even in people who did very well on the foam test,” Hullar said. “And we found, indeed, their balance improved during the harder test with their hearing aids on.”

For the foam pad test, patients maintained balance an average of 17 seconds with hearing aids off. With hearing aids on, this average increased to almost 26 seconds. And in the more difficult heel-to-toe test, patients remained stable an average of 5 seconds with hearing aids off. With them on, this time increased to an average of 10 seconds. Even with the small number of patients in the trial, both time differences were statistically significant.
Although patients could tell whether their hearing aids were on or off, the researchers randomized the order of the conditions in which each patient performed these tests, so that some performed the tests with hearing aids on first and some started with them off.
Hullar pointed out that many of the study patients did not report being consciously aware that they had performed better on these tests when their hearing aids were working. But he said he has heard anecdotal evidence that some people notice a difference.
“Many of my patients say their balance is better when they’re wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants,” Hullar said. “We wanted to find out if improved hearing really has a measurable effect on balance. And the metric that we use—how many seconds can you stand on a piece of foam—has a well-documented relationship to risk of falling.
“This is a small study,” Hullar added. “Obviously it needs to be repeated in a much larger study, and we’re seeking funding to do that.”

More information: “The effect of hearing aids on postural stability.” Laryngoscope. 2014 Oct 24. DOI: 10.1002/lary.24974. [Epub ahead of print]
Journal reference: Laryngoscope
Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

 

 

Is There a Cure for Tinnitus???

What does Steve Martin, Vincent van Gogh, Chris Martin, Pete, Townshend, Ozzy Osbourne and Barbra Streisand all have in common??? Famous, sure, but did you know that each of those individuals suffer from tinnitus. They are not alone-the prevalence of tinnitus is estimated to affect as many as 360,000 Canadians, and 150,000 Canadians experience a degree of tinnitus that significantly affects their quality of life.

Let me begin by explaining what tinnitus is. Tinnitus is a ringing, humming, buzzing, or other sound in your head or ears that does not have an outside source. The sound comes from within your head. For most people, tinnitus is a constant sound. Tinnitus is NOT a disease – it is a symptom!

How can a “little noise” be so detrimental to so many people???

  • Some individuals who suffer from tinnitus report:
  • Feeling helpless and frustrated
  •  Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Depressed or anxious
  • Problem concentrating
  • Reduced job performance
  • Decreased productivity
  • Family or relationship problems
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

You might be reading my blog looking for a cure for tinnitus. Unfortunately research is still being done to find a cure; there is no cure yet. I wish there was a magic pill I could give my patients to silence their tinnitus; unfortunately no pill exists. What about “alternative” methods like acupuncture, hypnosis, vitamins/herbs or homeopathy? None of these methods have been shown by research to help people with tinnitus more than a placebo (a placebo is like a “sugar pill”).

There is help for your tinnitus! Research has shown that even though we cannot change the tinnitus, we can change our reactions to it! Changing the reactions to tinnitus can make it less of a problem. The key is to learn how to manage our reactions to tinnitus. The goal is to feel better even though the tinnitus does not change.

How are reactions to tinnitus managed?
Methods used at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic include:
Sound-based methods (i.e. tinnitus masking, hearing aids)
– Education
– Counseling
EACH OF THESE METHODS HAVE BEEN SHOWN BY RESEARCH TO HELP SOME PEOPLE WITH TINNITUS!

Here at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic we are empathetic to you and your tinnitus. Give our clinic a call if you would like to schedule a tinnitus evaluation with our Doctors of Audiology.
Thanks for reading!
Paige Pierozynski, Au.D